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I have been thinking about using 3rd party GPL based jQuery controls in our in-house ASP.NET project. As far as the 3rd party license is concerned, I think I can use any jQuery controls in my application as long as they are compatible with the GPL license.

jQuery itself is released under the MIT license. The 3rd party library is what introduces the GPL (not LGPL) license concerns.

Do I need to mention any where in my application saying that we have been using GPL licensed controls? License information is already there in the .js files.

Do I need to give the source code of my software away? This is an in house ASP.NET web application; published on our own server; and only for internal users.

  • What makes you believe MIT license would require any kind of distribution for code using those controls? I suggest you remove that "MIT" part completely from your question, since the MIT license terms are probably not the one bothering you. – Doc Brown Nov 16 '14 at 17:08
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    Please read the GNU FAQ, or the text of the GPL for that matter, as that will answer all your questions. – whatsisname Nov 16 '14 at 17:22
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    possible duplicate of What constitutes "distributing" for LGPL v3 – whatsisname Nov 16 '14 at 17:26
  • jquery controls i am planning to use are under GPL. Is it same as LGPL? – Steve Dyson Nov 16 '14 at 17:31
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    GPL != LGPL and there are significant differences between the two. – GlenH7 Nov 16 '14 at 20:30
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As jquery is a Javascript library that gets executed on the client machines, using it in a public-facing website can be seen as distribution of the code.
When you distribute GPL licensed code, you must make the entire application open-source under the GPL or a compatible license.

If my assessment of the Javascript code being distributed when used in a website is wrong, then there is definitely no problem with using it in a closed-source web-app, but I would recommend consulting a lawyer before depending on it.

Anyway, your situation is different. As your web-app is an in-house application that you are developing on behalf of your employer, giving the code to fellow employees is not considered distribution under any circumstance, as the code doesn't leave the organisation.
For that reason, using the GPL controls in your in-house application is fine, as long as the application remains in-house.

  • Even were the jquery controls to be distributed to third-party end users, I would argue that only the javascript portions of the application would need to be GPL-licensed, as the server side is not related to the client side in any way that would traditionally be considered "linking". See: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/62869/… – Jules Nov 16 '14 at 18:16
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    You probably did not read the 2nd answer in the linked posted above (programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/131264/…)? It gives a strong argument why downloading JS to the client does not count as distribution. – Doc Brown Nov 16 '14 at 18:26
  • @Jules: Linking isn't the only criterium used by the GPL to determine if it is one application. Two pieces of code that depend on each other to function properly, even if they execute in different processes, are also considered one application for the GPL. See also gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLInProprietarySystem – Bart van Ingen Schenau Nov 16 '14 at 18:55
  • @DocBrown: I did read that answer and I don't see a strong argument in it that downloading JS doesn't constitute distribution. – Bart van Ingen Schenau Nov 16 '14 at 18:59
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau While this is true, it's quite doubtful that this would be enforceable in court, where I think the distance between a client-side user interface component and server-side business logic would seem too great to argue that there is any non-trivial dependency between the two. Or that the server side would be considered as a derivative of the client side even if the relationship were considered relevant; the way most modern web development works, we set down APIs in the server and then write a JS client that uses them. In this case, the dependency is the wrong way round. – Jules Nov 16 '14 at 19:07
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No. You are not distributing your software, as you control the only server it will be installed on, and the GPL only places any requirements on you if you distribute to a third party.

If you were to use AGPL components, that may require you to distribute the source code, but as it is only to your company's employees that you would be required to distribute it, this is unlikely to be too onerous.

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